Helsinki Central Library, Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki Central Library

The Helsinki Central Library is a new public library building located by the Töölönlahti Bay in Helsinki, Finland. It is one of the development projects designed to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Finnish independence.

An international competition was launched in 2012 to invite designs for the energy-efficient library opposite the Finnish Parliament building. ALA Architects was announced as the winner out of 544 entries in June 2013.

Helsinki City Council approved the design development phase of the project on 28 January 2015. Ground work on the library site began in September 2015, while main construction started in November 2016. The library will be opened to public in December 2018.

"The library is estimated to attract approximately 10,000 visitors a day and 2.5 million visitors a year."

The library is estimated to attract approximately 10,000 visitors a day and 2.5 million visitors a year. It aims to be a zero-energy building with an energy target of 120kWh/m² per annum.

Funding for the Helsinki Central Library

The estimated investment on the library project is €98m ($110.9m). The state will contribute €30m ($33.9m), while the City of Helsinki reserved €50m ($56.6m) in its budget for the project. The remaining investment is expected to come from private investors.

Helsinki Central Library design

The 16,000m² timber-clad library building will be more than 90m-long and consist of three individual floors. The ground floor will be covered by a curved ceiling while the top floor will feature a curving floor surface, creating an arching volume in the middle.

The ground floor will include a large, column-free foyer area consisting of a lobby, exhibition space, a multi-purpose hall, a restaurant, a cinema and other public spaces.

The middle floor will comprise small, functional facilities dedicated to different activities. It will include recording and video studios, music and multimedia workshop areas and a public sauna.

The light-filled top floor will include a serene library space with unobstructed views of the surrounding park and city. It will feature a 27m cantilever balcony with an area of more than 1,000m² overlooking the Parliament House.

The building will be characterised by a floating cloud roof structure. It will have three entrance points for the public. One will face the Central Railway Station to the south, while another will be located in the north-eastern corner.

A new 5,000m² (53,820ft²) cultural centre and library is set to be built in the Swedish city of Karlshamn.

A third main entrance will be located in front of the public plaza to the building's west and continue into the ground floor foyer. It will be shielded by an arched, overhanging wooden canopy above which the balcony will be situated.

Structure of the curved library building

The framework of the building will be made from a combination of steel and concrete. The building façade will constitute glass and wood.

Pre-assembled elements made from local materials will be used to construct the wooden façade. The cladding will be made of 30mm-thick, first-grade Siberian Larch wood. The initial hue of the wooden façade will develop into a deeper, richer shade over the years.

Parametric 3D design and manufacturing will be employed to shape the wood to the required geometry.

Contractors involved with the Helsinki Central Library project

Pöyry CM is the project manager while Ramboll is the structural engineer for the project. Finnmap Infra and Sipti Infra were responsible for the geo-planning while Projectus Team was selected as the HVAC engineer for the project.

Insinööritoimisto Lausamo is providing electrical engineering services and Insinööritoimisto Markku Kauriala is responsible for the fire safety. YIT will deliver project management services.

Gravicon is responsible for the building information modelling (BIM) coordination while Arup provided engineering services including structural engineering, building services, façade engineering and fire safety during the competition stage. Arup also worked on the energy-efficiency and sustainability features of the project.